China , the People's Republic of China as its official name, is situated in East Asia, on the western shores of the Pacific Ocean . It has a land boundary totaling over 22,800 kilometers, with 15 contiguous countries, adjoining Democcatic People's Republic of Korea in the east, Mongolia in the north, Russia in the northeast and Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan and Tajikistan in the northwest, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan in the west and southwest and Burma, Laos and Vietnam in the south. Across the Yellow Sea to the east are the Republic of Korea and Japan , and across the East China Sea and the South China Sea to southeast and south are the Philippines , Malaysia , Indonesia and Brunei . China has a total land area of about 9.6 million square kilometers, ranking only after Russia ad Canada , as the third largest country in the world.
Territory ---The territory of China , from north to south, measures some 5,500 kilometers, stretching from the center of the Heilongjiang River north of the town of Mohe to the Zengmu Reef at the southern most tip of the Nansha Island . When north China is still covered with snow, people in south China are busy with spring plowing. From west to east, the nation extends about 5,200 kilometers from the Pamirs to the confluence of the Heilongjiang and Wusuli River , with a time difference of over four hours. When the Pamirs are cloaked in night, the morning sun is shining brightly over east China .
Topography --- China 's topography is varied and complicated, with towering mountains, basins of different sizes, undulating plateaus and hills, and flat and fertile plains. China is mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in the west; plains, deltas, and hills in the east. A bird's-eye view of China would indicate that China 's terrain descends in four steps from west to east.
The top of this four-step ¡°staircase¡± is the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Averaging more than 4,000 meters above the sea level, the highest and largest, it is often called the ¡°roof of the world¡±, with the Mt. Qomolangma of 8,848.13 meters, the world's highest peak, in the Himalayan Mountains between China and Nepal. Starting from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the west, the topography of China leads towards the ocean in the east.
The second step includes the Inner Mongolia, Loess and Yunnan-Guizhou plateaus, and the Tarim, Junggar and Sichuan basins, with an average elevation of between 1,000 meters and 2,000 meters.
The third step, about 500¡ª1000 meters in elevation, begins at a line drawn around the Greater Hinggan, Taihang, Wushan and Xuefeng Mountain ranges and extends eastward to the coast. Here, from north to south are the Northeast Plain, the North China Plain and the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain. Interspersed amongst the plains are hills and foothills.
The fourth step of the staircase is flanked to the east and south on the continental shelf with less-than-200-meter depth of water, by the Bohai Sea , the Continental Sea , and the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea, and the marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean , with a total maritime area of more than 4.73 million square kilometers. China 's coast is more than 32,000 kilometers long, with more than 5,400 islands scattered over its vast territorial waters. The largest of these island is Taiwan , with an area of about 36,000 square kilometers, and the second largest is Hainan with an area of 34,000 square kilometers, both as provinces of China . Diaoyu and Chiwei islands, located to the northeast of Taiwan Island , are China 's easternmost islands. The many islands, islets, reefs and shoals on the South China Sea, known collectively as the South China Sea Islands , are subdivided into the Dongsha, Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha island groups.
Climate --- China 's climate has a marked continental monsoonal nature, characterized by a great variety, or extremely diverse, topical in the south to subarctic in the north. Northerly winds prevail in winter, while southerly winds reign in summer. The four seasons are quite distinct. The rainly season coincides with the hot season. From September to April of the following year, the dry and cold winter monsoons from Siberia and Mongolia in the north gradually become weak as they reach the southern part of the country, resulting in cold and dry winters and great difference in temperature. The summer monsoons last from April to September.
The warm and moist summer monsoons from the oceans bring abundant rainfall and high temperature, with little difference in temperature between the south and the north. China 's complex and varied climate results in a great variety of temperature belts and dry and moist zones. In terms of temperature, the nation can be sectored from south to north into equatorial, tropical, subtropical, warm-temperate, temperate, and cold-temperature zones; in terms of moisture, it can be sectored from southeast to northwest into humid (32 percent of land area), semi-humid (15 percent), semi-arid (22 percent) and arid zones (31 percent).
China experiences a few typhoons every year along southern and eastern coasts, and also damaging floods, sometimes earthquakes, droughts or tsunamis. But the current environmental issues are air pollution from reliance on coal; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; the loss of agricultural land to soil erosion and economic development; and desertification. To tackle these problems, China has entered the following international agreements: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling, and also signed Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol and Nuclear Test Ban.
Administrative Division ---The present-day administrative division in China includes 4 municipalities directly under the central government; Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing; 2 Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macao; 23 provinces: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; and 5 autonomous regions: Guangxi, Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia), Ningxia, Xinjiang, and Xizang (Tibet).
Pupulation ---Chinese Population, according to the two Communiques on Major Figures of the 2000 Population Census by National Bureau of Statistics, the People's Republic of China, from the results of the fifth national population census in China, on March 28, 2001 and April 2,2001 respectively, has reached 1,295.33 million (including 1,265.83 million of the mainland, 6.78 million of Hong Kong Special administrative Region, 440 thousand of Macao Special Administrative Region and 22.28 million of Taiwan Province and of Jinmen, Mazu and a few other islands of Fujian Province)
Population growth on the mainland, compared with the population of 1,133.68 million from the 1990 population census (with zero hour of July 1,1990 as the reference time), increased by 132.15 million persons, or 11.66 percent over the past 10 years and 4 months. The average annual growth was 12.79 million persons, or a growth rate of 1.07 percent.
The result shows that there were 348.37 million family households with a population of 1,198.39 million persons on the mainland. The average size of family household was 3.44 persons, or 0.52 persons less as compared with the 3.96 persons of the 1990 population census; as to the sex composition on the mainland, 653.55 million persons or 51.63 percent were males, while 612.28 million persons or 48.37 percent were females, and the sex ratio (female =100) was 106.74; as to the age composition on the mainland, 289.79 million persons were in the age group of 0--14, accounting for 22.89 percent of the total population; 887.93 million persons in the age group of 15¡ª64, accounting for 70.15 percent and 88.11 million persons in the age group of 65 and over, accounting for 6.96 percent, and as compared with the results of the 1990 population census, the share of people aged 65 and over was up by 1.39 percentage points.
The results also show that for the composition of nationalities on the mainland, 1,159.40 million persons or 91.59 percent were of Han nationality, and 106.43 million persons or 8.41 percent were of various national minorities. Compared with the 1990 population census, the population of Han people in creased by 116.92 million persons, or 11.22 percent; while the population of various national minorities increased by 15.23 million persons, or 16.70 percent. As for the composition of educational attainment for the mainland, 45.71 million persons had finished university education (referring to junior college and above); 141.09 million persons had received senior secondary education (including secondary technical school education); 429.89 million persons had received junior secondary education and 451.91 million persons had primary education (the educated persons included graduates and students in schools). According to the census, on the mainland of China , 85.07 million persons were illiterate (i.e. people over 15 years of age who can not read or can read very little), but compared with the 15.88 percent of illiterate people in the 1990 population census, the proportion had dropped to 6.72 percent, or down by 9.16 percentage points.
As for urban and rural population on the mainland of China , there were 455.94 million urban residents, accounting for 36.09 percent of the total population; and that of rural residents stood at 807.39 million, accounting for 63.91 percent. Compared with the 1990 population census, the proportion of urban residents rose by 9.86 percentage points.